A word from the author

When I was at Primary School we did a school play every year, and it was the most important event in the whole calendar. One year we did a Brecht - Arturo Ui - and I had the main part. I have been learning from that experience ever since.

When my two kids were at Primary School the Council decided to close it, along with 23 other schools. It was a terrible idea; so we fought it, and we won. I was very moved to experience the way a community can rally round a school. It is an important, and a very positive experience to be part of that.

There is nothing like a musical to bring people together and to celebrate what a community really is. So, it wasn't too much of a leap to imagine Primary School Musical... to imagine the wonderful story of how a bunch of kids love their school, and save their school.

I wrote a couple of songs and started a choir. The kids were grudgingly interested in the songs, but utterly compelled by the idea of who they were going to be... Who would be the Bossy One? Who would be the One with The Secret? Who would be the Chavvy One? That's how the story wrote itself, and we all knew where it was headed because we had all been there on the marches: Save Our School!

Because I have made some films, I imagined from the start that it would be good to make a film, because a film would be able to take the musical out to kids and teachers, and demonstrate how to do it. You can get a sense of the story, the characters, the choreography, the pace and the downright fun of it. A bit like Bugsy Malone. And it was amazing to show the film to five schools, and fill a big screen at Cineworld. I hope we can do it again.

But the film shouldn't dazzle you too much. PSM began on the stage and belongs on the stage and the film is simply there to make it easy for you.

And when you stage it you can do it with a big cast - say, 60 kids - or a small cast - say, 15 kids. You can accompany it on the piano, or with a live band, or you can use our backing tracks. Or a mix of all three!

And you can make elaborate sets, or you can do it the Brecht way like we did, with a few chairs, some fun costumes, and BANNERS. What we did was to make a big white wall and a whole array of giant fridge magnets to spell out messages like ANTY SCHOOL and TO THE CITY CHAMBERS. In our production we enjoyed having adults in the adult parts (we just fished a Granny out of the audience to play GRAN!). But it would also work really well for kids to be the adults, like in Jean Vigo's wonderful film Zero de Conduite (No Marks for Good Behaviour). And you might want to keep our invented school, Sunnyside, or to make it all about your own real school.

But the main thing is that we believe in the MESSAGE, and because of that we want to make it possible for EVERYONE and ANYONE to do. The main thing is to make it your own, and to have fun with it.

Good luck, and please let us know how you get on. And if you need our help, we will do our best to help you!


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